Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Messages and themes by Cathy Ace

Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?

This is a good question – and my answer is both no, and yes. “No”, because I never set out to write a book that has, at its core, an overarching “message” (other than don’t kill someone or do something spiteful, vindictive, horrid or just plain awful because you WILL be brought to justice); “Yes” because I find I always seem to end up writing a book where there’s some sort of theme running through it. 

Cait Morgan Mystery #7 - arrives in April
My Cait Morgan Mysteries are traditional, closed-circle mysteries – classic whodunits with a modern setting. As such, I have to write every character from the point of view that the reader should have a good reason (or two) to be able to imagine they might have dunit. Thus, everyone has secrets, everyone lies – or at least omits – and everyone has to face the fact their past and present inter-relationships with the titular corpse brings their moral judgement into question. Thus, all these books are written with the undercurrent that anyone is capable of murder given the right circumstances. Maybe that’s a theme because it has to be….but there are other themes too. In April, Cait Morgan Mystery #7, THE CORPSE WITH THE GARNET FACE, is published, and, like all the Cait books, it has a thread running through it; in this instance it’s about how appearances can be deceptive...or not. Bud discovers he had an uncle, now dead, and, when he follows the man’s final wishes and travels to Amsterdam to dig into the truth about the man’s past, he has to work out how – if at all – the large port-wine birthmark covering half of his late Uncle Jonas’s face might have affected his life. Do we “judge a book by its cover” when the book is another human being?

In the WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries each book certainly has a theme, if not a message. It might be a simple theme, such as the strength of friendship or the different types of relationships between parents and children, or maybe some readers will pick up on the way modern technology impacts our everyday lives. Not themes I would call “messages” but they are certainly there as touchstones.

Cathy Ace writes the WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries (book #2 THE CASE OF THE MISSING MORRIS DANCER was published in February, and book #1 THE CASE OF THE DOTTY DOWAGER was published in trade paperback on March 1st) and the Cait Morgan Mysteries (book #7 THE CORPSE WITH THE GARNET FACE is published in paperback in April). Find out more about Cathy and her work, and sign up for her newsletter at  (Sign up by April 1st and you'll be entered to win a signed copy of The Corpse with the Garnet Face.)

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